Iowa’s spring turkey hunting season opens for youth this weekend and hunters of all ages need to know the safety rules before they hit the field.

Jeff Barnes, a recreation safety officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, offers a few tips. “Get out there and pattern your shotgun, make sure it’s shooting where you want it to be shooting,” Barnes says. “Make sure your clothes and your calls are all in good working order. Preseason prep, do everything you can to make sure everything’s in good shape and going to last you for the season and make sure your calls sound like you want them.”

Hunters need to make themselves visible to other hunters and be very aware of their surroundings. “You need to be looking around. Make sure, even if you’re on private property, that there’s nobody else in the area,” Barnes says. “It’s a very good idea to have some blaze orange on so that others in the area will be able to see you as you’re moving back and forth.” The relatively mild winter was helpful in boosting Iowa’s populations of turkeys and other game birds — in addition to some unwelcome creatures.

“The weather’s been conducive to bugs being out early,” Barnes says. “Bug spray, something to prevent ticks from getting on you would be a main thing that you’d be after. I’ve already got reports of mosquitoes being out in some areas, especially southern Iowa.” The spring turkey season for youth-only runs this Saturday through April 16th.

The four regular spring turkey seasons are April 17th to the 20th, April 21st to the 25th, April 26th to May 2nd and from May 3rd to the 21st. Find more information and tips at:

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City/DNR photo)